The New England Law Review’s Spring 2014 symposium, “A Look Back at the History of Capital Punishment,” centered on Professor Evan J. Mandery’s book, A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America. New England Law | Boston was honored to have Professor Mandery in attendance, along with Professor Phyllis Goldfarb of George Washington University Law School; Professor Michael Meltsner from Northeastern Law School; the Honorable Michael Ponsor, Associate Justice of the United States District Court of Massachusetts; and Professor Carol S. Steiker from Harvard Law School. Discussions during the symposium covered a range of topics, from the Bill of Rights and Supreme Court cases, to issues of race and the influence of media on the public’s perception of the death penalty. Live Twitter coverage of the symposium appears here.
Professor Mandery, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and serves as the chairperson of the college’s Department of Criminal Justice. A Wild Justice is not Professor Mandery’s only book on the subject of capital punishment; he has also written a textbook, Capital Punishment: A Balanced Examination, which is now in its second edition, as well as numerous law review articles and commentaries on the death penalty and other criminal law issues facing the justice system. In addition to his non-fiction books about capital punishment, Professor Mandery has written three novels: Q: A Novel, First Contact (Or It’s Later Than You Think) – Parrot Sketch Excluded, and Dreaming of Gwen Stefani; two short stories: The Christmas Miracle Event and The Son Also Rises; and a non-fiction book The Campaign: Rudy Giuliani, Ruth Messinger, Al Sharpton and the Race to be Mayor of New York City, which was published in paperback as Eyes on City Hall.
A Wild Justice begins in Summer 1963, when Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and his clerk, Alan Dershowitz, began examining how the Eighth Amendment could prohibit the death penalty in America. At the time this was an innovative idea: no Supreme Court justice before Justice Goldberg had even intimated that the death penalty was unconstitutional, and “[o]nly one law-review article had even hinted at the notion.” A Wild Justice describes the events, people, and political forces that led the Supreme Court to eliminate the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia, and the book explains the changes that caused the Supreme Court to revisit its position only four years later in Gregg v. Georgia. During the symposium, Professor Goldfarb commented that A Wild Justice captures the death penalty’s roots in American culture and Judge Ponsor stated that he “absolutely loved” the book. Professor Meltsner said that he believed A Wild Justice to be Professor Mandery’s “greatest work.”
The New England Law Review is proud and honored to feature Professor Mandery’s work in Volume 48, Book 4, expected out in early this Fall.